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2018 Volvo S90 Inscription Review: New Design, Old Soul in Scandinavias Luxury Sedan

Time:2019-01-11 20:35Turbochargers information Click:

VOLVO review 2018 Inscription

The engine is competent, well-engineered, and nowhere near as elegant as the rest of the car. It sounds every bit a four-cylinder engine when you step on it, and while it's plenty smooth, it lacks the interesting character of the V-6s and V-8s of the competition. And even if you don't worship at the altar of displacement, you have to admit that the resulting fuel economy here—22 city, 31 highway, 25 combined in ideal conditions—isn't terribly impressive.

I'll give the Sensus touchscreen this: The "front page," which contains four context-dependent tiles for your most-used features, is a fine system that covers your needs maybe 70 percent of the time. But if you need to venture beyond that, there's no saving you from the unintuitive mess of features and settings found on the secondary pages. And the whole thing is painfully slow to respond to inputs, especially when you first turn on the car. I found if I shifted into reverse within a few seconds of starting it up, the backup camera would often fail to display. And seriously, no physical HVAC controls?

There are still some aspects to the whole package that belie the luxurious image. The ride is a little harsh but the chassis still feels slightly loose—a weird juxtaposition. The S90 is also designed to be experienced from the back seat, but there's not enough room under the front seats for big feet, and the pop-out cupholders are shallow and flimsy. And as with the V90, the beautiful off-white leather seats are highly susceptible to staining.

Kyle Cheromcha

Elegant off-white interior goes well with lens flare.

The 2018 Volvo S90 Inscription, Ranked

Performance: 3/5

Comfort: 5/5

Luxury: 4.5/5

Hauling people: 4/5

Hauling stuff: 3.5/5

Curb appeal: 5/5

“Wow” factor: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

Kyle Cheromcha

There's enough of a trunk to avoid being lumped into the nebulous "hatchback-sedan" design craze.

The Bottom Line

All things considered, the Volvo S90 Inscription gets it done. This is not a car that's trying to slay the Nürburgring, and it's not trying to out-Maybach a Maybach on a $60,000 budget. It's not going to appeal to everyone who might cross-shop it with a BMW or an Audi or a Jaguar, and it makes no extraneous efforts to convert anyone. It knows what it is: midsize luxury for the intelligentsia—buyers who want to know they've made the correct decision in terms of quality, comfort, and value. On those fronts, it delivers in spades.

On others, particularly when it comes to aggressive driving, it falls somewhat short, especially considering you can snag a BMW 5 Series for the same money. But taking a wider view, everything comes into balance on the S90. It's not so soft you can't throw it into a corner, or too hard to enjoy around town. It's not ostentatious, but it is striking in its own way. And it's not "second mortgage" expensive, but it still radiates luxury and class. The term "balance" is admittedly tricky, because we've come to expect cars to do it all, to be everything to everyone. But when you strip away the sillier expectations, the Volvo S90 is about as pure and on-point as it gets.

Kyle Cheromcha

Enough room in the back—and plush carpeting. Big feet will get squished, though.

The 2018 Volvo S90 Inscription, By the Numbers

Price (as tested): $58,600 ($69,140)

Powertrain: 2.0-liter twin-charged four-cylinder engine, 316 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque; eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city/31 highway/25 combined

Curb Weight: 4,135 pounds

Cargo Capacity: 13.5 cubic feet

Rear Seat Legroom: 40.4 inches

0-60 MPH: 5.6 seconds (Car & Driver testing)

Top Speed: 133 mph

Kyle Cheromcha


Kyle Cheromcha

Volvo's digital screens are bright and crisp.

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